As far back as I could remember I have had a love for buildings wrapped with history. Growing up in Sarasota I was always in wonder of the Ringling Ca’ d’Zan, I would try to imagine the activity that happened in that splendid house. My visits to the Biltmore, are always magical and I spend hours taking in the house.
When I read a recent Orlando Sentienel article “Zellwood Mansion Earns Spot on Historic Registry”, about a restoration undertaking of the oldest mansions still standing in Florida here in Mt. Dora/Zellwood, my heart skipped a beat.
In April 2014, Amy and Clark Frogley purchased the abandoned 22,000-square-foot mansion, which was completed in 1895, known as Sydonie Mansion. Their plans are to take this forgotten gem, with 41 rooms and 13 fireplaces, and bring it back to its glory for the public to enjoy.
The Frogley family is opening the Mansion, dressed up for Christmas, for a 2 hour Holiday Tour. The public has a chance to see all the renovation that have been done and hear about the history of this beautiful estate. Tours are Dec 1st-3rd and 5th-9th at 10AM and 1PM. The $20.00 tour donation is going toward the much needed roof repairs. Go to www.sydoniemansion.com to make your reservation.
Meet Sydonie Mansion
I took the tour on December 1st and was in amazement of this architectural gem. With Amy’s extensive research of the property, discovering its architects and designers, and gathering history of previous owners she takes you back in time to show you the beauty and the reason for saving this incredible mansion.
The Sydonie Mansion was created as a Winter Retreat by James L. Laughlin, a co-head of J&L Steel, the largest private independent steel company in the world. He was exploring Central Florida on a hunting trip with friends, when he came across a piece of land with rolling hills which over looked a spring feed lake, now Lake Minore. He has been quoted saying “it was the most beautiful place on the planet”. He purchased 600 acres..
Sydonie Mansion is in Mediterranean Revival style, it was designed after the Alhambra Castle in Spain, which included sculpted gardens with rare plants from around the world, citrus groves, a dairy farm, power plant (possibly put in by Thomas Edison) and even a bowling alley. The mansion had hot and cold running water, an elevator that functions with ropes and pulleys (still iworking) ; a bowling alley; and a basement pool called “The Plunge.”
The restoration efforts are an on going project. Amy and her team have stripped layers of paint to reveal incredible wood work and to bring a room back to its originally intended style. The dinning area was a shade of pink. It now glows with sunshine and is adorned with gold leaf details.
Including a full functional pulley elevator.
The Biltmore is not the only mansion with an indoor pool! Know as the “Plunge”, this basement pool would have been perfect for those hot summer Florida days. It has its own heating system as well. They are currently working on a new mural to make it closer to authentic.
The property boasted grand landscape architecture with exotic plants from around the world collected by the Laughlins. Unfortunatly it was torn out and sold by a previous owner.
Check out the Sydonie Mansion website for all upcoming tour events and rental opportunities. http://www.sydoniemansion.com/home.html
* Around Mount Dora has not been compensated for any of the shout-outs in this posting, Just like you, I want to know what is happening in my community and want to be able to find it ALL in one place, no matter who is sponsoring the event. This takes a lot of time to pull together and some think I am crazy for wasting my time. I love Mt. Dora. By discovering and sharing, I feel it builds a stronger community. Enjoy this Christmas season!